back to article Getting Started with Avisynth

Conventional wisdom tells us that to be truly useful, computers need to be tamed to work the way we work, not the way they want to do things. Following this philosophy, movie-editing software like Apple's Final Cut Pro and Adobe's Premier emulate reels of celluloid that you can wind through to find your edit points. …


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  1. Haku

    Processing power

    I've been using VirtualDub & AviSynth for years, the main reasonn I got into video editing was the ability to filter video, cleaning up captured VHS/Betamax/Laserdisc to a point where it doesn't look like it was dragged (backwards & longways) through a hedge. The sheeer amount of 3rd party filters for those programs is staggering, has some of the best ones.

    When you're filtering video with complex noise removal algorhythms the first thing you learn is you can never have enough processing power, filtering with an 800mhz CPU is like trying to raytrace on a BBC Micro (been there, done that, waited days for the simple picture), doing test pieces on 5-10 minutes of video several times to find the right filter settings can take an age.

    The one thing I've found with filtering video is that it can look superb on your PC's screen but once authored & burned to DVD and watched on a traditional TV screen it can look terrible because the filtering was too heavy. TV-out on your PC is a godsend in these situations, you can get almost instant feedback on how well your filter settings are working - and it's always that less is more.

  2. Tom Chiverton 1

    Numbers accident

    "Avisynth runs on 98 per cent of the the world's computers. That's the upside spin - "runs only on Windows" would be the pessimist's version"

    98 percent of computers in the world do not run Windows, I assure you. 98 percent of 'PCs' in the world *might* but I expect Mac users would argue that number down a fair way, never mind the 'nix users...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Aw, man...

    Life's too short.

  4. Frank Bitterlich

    Please shoot me...

    ... if you ever catch me editing my TV recordings this way.

    The software mentioned certainly does have it's use, but I just don't see "living room editing" among them.

  5. Daniel Pimley


    "movie-editing software like Apple's Final Cut Pro and Adobe's Premier emulate reels of celluloid that you can wind through to find your edit points. Unfortunately, this emulation eats up computer resources. Dispense with it, and there's a great way you can do movie editing without having to lash out on a quad-core machine with multi-gigabytes of Ram."

    This is totally inaccurate . Modern NLEs require quad-core machines with GBs of RAM to do massively complex real-time colour correction, compositing, key-framed effects and multi-track audio mixing, not simply to display an NLE interface.

    "the ability to access frames at random and do virtual cuts without modifying the original clip - and a feast of instantly deliverable transitions - dissolves, wipes, and so forth. Not stuff you'd expect to do on an 800MHz single-core Celeron system."

    In 2001 I was doing exactly what you describe with DV quality material using a PC with an 800 MHz Celeron and 512 MB RAM, with off-the-shelf software and no additional dedicated hardware.

    This article is pure FUD and the author is utterly uninformed.

  6. Rob

    Did I fall asleep

    Has something happened to the video editing industry that I don't know about? This has to be the most arse about face way of editing video. Don't get me wrong I have Avisynth installed along with VirtualDub and such like, they have their place and pretty much like the first commentor said usually as a parser of sorts for various filters and clean-up/conversion jobs.

    Why exactly did you suddenly need to write an article of such length on the software and put it in the wrong context?

    I get my media software news from other sources, probably best to leave it that way and get back to doing what you do best El Reg.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Video editing in Linux...

    There aren't too many great video editors for Linux. I just thought I'd add that I've recently been tooling around with kdenlive (, and I'm quite impressed with it.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Another voice from the "this is cobblers" camp

    I've successfuly run and cut in Final Cut Pro on an 867MHz PowerPC G4 with 640MB of RAM and it sailed along quite happily without bringing the system to its knees every time it went for the next frame. No, what ate resources were the acts of transcoding video and rendering effects or transitions, as other commenters have pointed out. That said, the system I was using was a veritable powerhouse compared to the early Avids that built the industry.

    Last and not least, who but the most bloodyminded masochist records films off the telly these days? The transfer is usually rubbish but then it's been compressed to buggery to fit into scant bandwidth anyway, on top of which it will have been arbitrarily mauled to fit the broadcasting regulations. The same film, sans compression, sans mauling, transferred with the greatest attention to detail is pretty much guaranteed to be available in some DVD emporium or another for as little as three quid (plus p&p if you're too lazy to go to the shops yourself), without all this extra faffing about.

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  10. foxyshadis

    Real reason to use it

    The real beauty of avisynth is more that its filters are created by enthusiasts trying to create the best possible restorations of mangled, compressed, and low-res video, often created by cinemaphiles or videophiles with programming experience. (Most free and cheap shareware windows GUIs use either Avisynth or FFMPEG behind the scenes, so for basic tasks there's little point in learning avisynth syntax.)

    If you just want to turn a DVD into an AVI or MP4, you'd be much better off using MeGUI, which makes some very clever avisynth scripts for you with deep source analysis. For vice versa, you're better off with AVStoDVD. Or SUPER, for you anything-to-anything needs, if you don't mind the codec pack it installs. (All free GUI tools.)

    It also runs on linux and osx with wine, many use it that way, despite the author's claim.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Right tool for the job

    i agree with other posters. Avisynth is great and has it's place but by mentioning Premier and Final Cut you are drawing comparisons that are absurd. Granted given a million years you could achieve the same effect with Avisynth but if you value your itme at more than 2 quid an hour buying a quad-core and a proper NLE is so much a better option

  12. Chris Bidmead

    Wow, that's quite a roasting.

    Oddly enough, there's not a lot in those previous postings I'd vehemently disagree with. But let me have a crack at fighting back.

    Haku underlines the huge value of all those filters Avisynth offers, and of course that's a key feature. Obviously I didn't want to get into 3:2 pulldown and colourspace conversion on a first date; what I did want to do was give beginners a taste for Avisynth while offering them something simple and practical to do with it. And yes, of course, the more processing you demand of Avisynth, the more processing power (or patience) you'll need. But you can certainly get started with Avisynth on very entry-level kit.

    "LIfe's too short", and "please shoot me" certainly chime with me. If you like watching TV adverts, or you don't mind interrupting the movie to fast wind through them, then that's the way to go. Likewise if you're happy with the selection of DVDs at your local Blockbusters, knock yourself out. But TV does have a way of digging up old film noir and foreign movies to provide a selection that certainly outshines what's available on my High Street.

    Similarly, if you already have the compute power and experience to work with FCP, then this approach to Avisynth won't hold a lot of interest for you. Or perhaps it might. Avisynth and AvsP does simple stuff extraordinarily well and efficiently, once you get the feel of it, and after several years of working with software like Pinnacle Studio and FCP I just find I keep coming back to Avisynth.

    "Modern NLEs require quad-core machines with GBs of RAM to do massively complex real-time colour correction, compositing, key-framed effects and multi-track audio mixing, not simply to display an NLE interface." Hello, Daniel. You're right, I was simplifying the Avisynth proposition. And foxyshadis reminds me that with help Avisynth works with Mac OSX. Yes, I did know that -- in fact I do all my Avisynth stuff these days inside a VMWare virtual machine under Leopard running, as it happens, on a quad-core processor with 8 GB of RAM. I sort of count that as "Windows", but foxyshadis' point is worth making and well taken.

    Keep the comments coming, please. I'm only too conscious that in tone and content stuff like this Avisynth piece can't please everybody, and can always be better written. I probably respond best to courteous comments, but if that's too much of a stretch for you, hey, I wrote the UNIX column for dear departed PCW for almost a decade. I have a special umbrella for geek spit.



  13. Lars Steffensen

    Works for me!

    I just love articles like this and it did get me started with scripting for Avisynth. I had avisynt installed because I had used it to load a real-player video into VirtualDub, but never got around to using the full potential of it. Messed arround with avisynth for a week now and just love the simplicity of it: I use as simple "directshowsource" script to load my HD mkv- or mp4- files (anything goes really) into vDub and find the frame-numbers for my cuts, use the Trim (xxxxx, yyyyy) ++ in a new script and which can be loaded directly into my Xilisoft converter. Makes it really easy and very flexible to get from any video source to something that facebook will show in "HD".

    I never got DGIndex to work but i can just cut and paste the numbers for now.

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